With the March for Life last weekend, and the Women’s March on Washington the week before that, so the debate over being pro-life versus being pro-abortion has been given a lot of attention lately. Pro-abortion advocates have taken that opportunity to try to redefine what it means to be pro-life.
At Time, Danya Ruttenberg argues that women should “reclaim” the term pro-life. (Nevermind that about half of all American women already consider themselves to be pro-life.) “It’s time to re-appropriate the term pro-life. Those who want to take away both women’s reproductive health care and everyone else’s every-kind-of health care have lost their right to the term,” Ruttenberg wrote. “Pro-life is ours now. It should become a rallying point for those of us resisting the new Donald Trump Administration and its threats to our inalienable rights.”
So what would the “new” pro-life mean? According to Ruttenberg, it means to be pro-gun control, anti-death penalty, pro-contraception, pro-abortion, pro-police reform, pro-refugee, and pro-climate change.
Christopher Lamb offers a similar argument at the Huffington Post. He likewise claims that the term “pro-life” needs to be redefined, so he came up with a little quiz. For Lamb, you presumably must answer “yes” to every one of these questions if you are to be truly pro-life:
Do you oppose capital punishment?
Do you oppose torture?
Do you support hate crime laws?
Do you support the Violence Against Women Act?
Do you support allowing women, children, and elderly to come to the United States from war-torn countries?
Do you oppose assault weapons?
Do you support more extensive benefits to veterans of the armed services?
Do you support universal health care?
Do you support affordable housing?
Should we release prison convicts who have been exonerated of their crime by DNA tests?
Do you support unemployment benefits?
Do you support racial and gender equality?
Do you support equal justice for all?
Do you support care for the mentally ill?
Do you support the National Endowment for the Arts?
Do you support regulating the safety of our food and drinking water?
Do you support the Family and Medical Leave act?
Do you support that we act with greater urgency to counter the dangers of global warming?
Do you support stricter regulations on the banking industry?
Do you support a living wage?
Do you support the Environment Protection Agency, which protects the health of Americans by enforcing environmental standards?
Do you oppose corporations who release toxins into the air that annually sicken or kill hundreds of thousands of people in this country, including a disproportionate number of children and the elderly?
Do you agree with Jesus who said, “I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me“?
There are some points that Ruttenberg and Lamb both get right. To be pro-life is about more than protecting abortion. Being pro-life is about respecting all life. Many pro-lifers do, indeed, also fight against things like euthanasia, the death penalty, and discrimination against people with disabilities. But many of the things Ruttenberg and Lamb add in have nothing to do with being pro-life.
The simple reality is that trying to change what being pro-life stands for is a way for pro-abortion advocates to weaken the pro-life position and co-opt the label. Why? Possibly because pro-life has more positive connotations than the “pro-abortion” or “pro-choice” label does. Possibly because the number of people who call themselves pro-life is growing, while the number of people who call themselves “pro-choice” is shrinking. Whatever the reasoning, the pro-life label doesn’t need to be redefined.
Being pro-life isn’t about forwarding liberal political positions — or conservative positions, either, for that matter. It’s about life… period. You cannot advocate for abortion and call yourself pro-life, no matter how many other liberal policy positions you adopt.